I Corinthians 10:16-22

Dr. Steve Viars April 7, 1992 1 Corinthians 10:16-22

- We're going to go to I Cor. 10 tonight and pick up where we
   left off on this study of Christian Liberty
- let me take a minute and talk to you about the schedule
- remember we said that chapters 8, 9, and 10 address
   Christian liberty
- Lord willing, we're going to study verses 16-22 tonight and
   verses 23-33 next week and that will conclude this section
    on Christian liberty
- if you would have told me at the beginning of this section
   that we were going to take 13 weeks to study Christian
   Liberty, I would have never believed it
- but I'm convinced, and I imagine that you are too, that
   this is a very critical subject for Christians in our day
   and age

- I just talked to a pastor yesterday in Grand Rapids who was
    telling me that he has a church leader who sees no
    problems with drinking alcohol
- even though there's a statement in their church
   constitution on that subject, this man still wants to go
   around and brag how its OK to drink, and how others in the
   church ought to join with him
    - the argument he's using is - "well, the pastor is just
      a weaker brother, and those of us who are really strong
      can handle it."

- that’s just the opposite of what we've been studying in
   these verses
- so I'm thankful that the Lord has given us this much
   material on this subject, and I'm thankful that you've
   been here faithfully to study it with us

- Verses 16-22 contain some critical points that have to be
   added to our understanding of this subject
- READ 14-22

- before we get into the main part of the message tonight,
  I'd like to take a brief diversion and talk about how to
  address others when you're talking about "knotty problems."
- Paul has given some very strong principles in these verses
   and its apparent all through the book that this church has
   some serious problems

- INPUT - but let me ask you this - what do you see in verses
   14-15 about the way Paul addressed the Corinthians as he
   spoke, even about difficult issues?

  1) Show your love.  (called them beloved)
     - you know that in a couple of chapters Paul is going to
       give an extended discussion of what love is.
     - but even in the middle of a "knotty biblical and
       theological issue," Paul still is addressing them as
       his "beloved."

     - even if they disagree with what he's saying, there's
       no question about his love for them.

     - if you tied that with the fruit of the Spirit passage
       from Galatians 5, you would say that Paul evidenced
       the fruit of the Spirit even to those with whom he
     - I think that ought to prompt a question in our minds--
       that is-how do I address and treat those with whom I
       don't agree, or those whom I believe have done
       something wrong

        - INPUT - what are some of the different
           relationships that that idea would effect?

           (develop - co-workers, spouses, children)

INPUT - what else do you observe from these two verses about
  the way Paul addresses those with whom he disagrees?

  2) Show your respect.  (I speak to you as to wise men.)

    - see, a fundamental question that every parent has to
       answer (every boss, every teacher, every pastor) is
       "am I going to go into this disagreement:
         a) assuming those I'm addressing want to do right?"

         b) assuming those I'm addressing want to do wrong?"

    - the answer to that question is going to have a profound
      effect on your choice of words, your tone of voice,
      your body language, your rate of speech, your volume.

    - Paul models an important characteristic here--that is:
      "unless I have clear facts to the contrary, I ought to
       assume that the folks I'm addressing, even though they
       may initially disagree -- want to do right -- and with
       the Lord's help will respond to biblical truth."

- I know I can speak for all of us on the pastoral staff that
  that’s the perspective from which we want to present our
   lessons and messages.
- our church family makes that very easy
   - but Paul models how that can be possible even for folks
     who make it difficult to have that perspective
   - my guess is, that some if not many of us needed to be
     reminded of that.

- in these verses we read, Paul talks first of all about:

I. The Fellowship That Results From the Lord's Table

    - there's a couple of things we need to put into place

    A. What is the "cup of blessing" in verse 16?

        - the answer is - that was the Jew's technical term
            for the third cup that was passed at the Passover
            meal.  (the cup of blessing)
        - of course, that’s the cup the Lord passed in the
          upper room to His disciples when he instituted the
          Lord's table.


        - as a result, in the early church, Christians took
          that term "cup of blessing" and used it to describe
          their observance of the Lord's table.
        - so to carry that over today, when we have the
          Lord's table like we did last Sunday night, you
          could call that the "cup of blessing."

INPUT - what is the best known passage on the Lord's table--
        the one we actually read from while we're partaking
        of communion?  (I Cor. 11)

- so Paul brings up "The Lord's table" (the cup of blessing)
   in 10:16,
    - then he goes back to finish off Christian liberty in
        the rest of the chapter,
    - then in verse 11 he gives a full blown discussion of
        the Lord's table.

- now, a very good question to ask at this point would be:

    B. How does this fit with Christian liberty?

- the answer isn't - "it's just coincidence - Paul just is
     finishing up one topic and he's going to another and
     there's really no connection."
- there's some very important connections and understanding
   the connections gives us another important "piece to this
   Christian liberty puzzle."

- let's diagram it this way:

    1) (let me ask you to back up for a minute) We started
       this study in chapter 8 with some original questions
       about Christian liberty.  Remember, unbelievers
       offered meat to their idols, and that produced some
       questions for the members of the church.  Do you
       remember one of those questions?

        a) can I buy it myself?
        b) can I attend one of the feasts at the pagan temple
           where I'm sure the meat has been offered to idols?
        c) can I attend a private party at the home of one of
           my unsaved friends where I'm not sure what kind of
           meat will be served?

    2) (we've also got all these) principles on Christian
        liberty we've been studying. (especially - have the
        right heart, avoid idolatry.)

    3) We know that coming up (and really Paul's already
        mentioned it) is the subject of the Lord's table.

- now, these verses we're looking at tonight tie all three
   ideas together (circle where the three lines come
   together) and in so doing give some additional principles
   on Christian liberty.

- a key to all of this comes from the end of verse 16 and
   verse 17, and it deals with the question of:

    C. What is the result of partaking of the Lord's table?

- you could summarize the end of verse 16 with, "it results

        1. fellowship with our Lord

            - now you might say, "wait, I don't see the word
              "fellowship anywhere in verse 16."
            - that's true, and the word I'm talking about
              here is actually translated differently in all
              three versions
- communion - KJV, sharing - NASB, participation - NIV

          - let me ask you to focus on that word for a minute
          - it's the original word "koininia"

    - it's often translated "fellowship"

- let me assign out a couple of verse for sake of time that
    use that word
     - I Cor. 1:9 - called into fellowship with His Son
     - Phil. 2:1 - fellowship of the Spirit
     - Phil. 3:10 - fellowship of His sufferings
     - II Cor. 8:4 - fellowship (participation) of the
          ministering to the saints

- a good definition of this word is "to have in common, to
    participate with, to have partnership."

- now, let's plug that in to verse 16
- what's Paul saying about the Lord's table?
    - he says - "when we take part in the Lord's table--we're
        having fellowship with the blood of Christ, and the
        body of Christ."
    - we're "having it in common, participating with, having
      partnership with"

- INPUT - Now let's think that through carefully. When we
    have the Lord's table, in what senses are we having
    fellowship with the blood and body of Christ?
- 1) we're remembering that as the basis of our salvation.
  2) we're also reminding ourselves that what happened to
      our Lord on the cross must also be happening to us on a
      daily basis.
        - Jesus said, if any man will come after me, let him
            deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
        - Paul said - "I die daily"
        - Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ, and it is
            no longer I who live...

- we do a good job of emphasizing that at baptism
    - our mode of baptism makes that very natural (develop -
        identifying with Christ's death, burial, and

    - We need to focus on those same concepts when we partake
       of the Lord's table
    - Paul says, we're having fellowship with (having in
      common, participating with, having partnership with)
      the blood and body of Christ
        - with His death

- INPUT - now, let's think about this: What does that have to
    do with the subject of Christian liberty?  (Why discuss
    the Lord's table in the same breath as Christian
     - people who properly enslave their liberties are people
       who have died to self.
     - they are believers who genuinely understand their
       relationship to (their fellowship with), the death of

     - its like Paul told the Romans in Romans 12:1 - "I
        beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
        God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
        holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable

- now, let's look at another result of partaking in the
   Lord's table in verse 17:

        2. fellowship with others

    - see, what makes it possible for believers to have
         - and to get along with one another
         - and to serve joyfully with one another

    - one of the answers is - because we've all died
      - we want to have fellowship with (participation with)
         the body and blood of Christ, and therefore we're
         ready to esteem each other better than ourselves.

- broad, sweet fellowship ought to be the result
- what's one of the greatest ways to test that fellowship?
    - see if folks enslave their liberties in order to
       minister to one another.

- the Lord's table reminds us of what makes that possible,
   and what makes that necessary.

- point is - the Lord's table results in fellowship
   - fellowship with our Savior, fellowship with one another
   - those who have that kind of fellowship in place are
       going to be in a great position to handle Christian
       liberty in a way that pleases the Lord.

- I just want to mention this: - Paul gives the same
    kind of illustration in verse 18:

        3. true of OT Israel as well - verse 18

- we've already made the points from that illustration, so
   we're going to move on.

- now, in these next couple of verses, Paul is going to
   make some statements about this subject that are
   absolutely shocking.
- in fact, I'm almost sure that when these words were first
   read publicly at the church of Corinth--it would have
   taken the breath away from some of those folks who were

- let's look at them
- we've talked about the fellowship that results from the
   Lord's table--now Paul's going to tell us about:

II. The Fellowship That Results From Worshipping Idols

- read 19

    A. An idol is nothing

- INPUT - where have we heard that before?
   (8:4 - we said that Paul is reciting an argument that some
     of the Corinthians had used to justify their exercising
     the liberty to eat this meat in any setting.)

- you can almost hear them pompously saying - "an idol isn't
    anything - it's not going to hurt us to eat that meat."
- Paul says both in 8:4 and again in 10:19, "there are some
   senses in which that's true...

- however, look at verse 20

- he says - in one sense you're right--that actual wooden
   idol (that the meat was sacrificed to) is nothing in and
   of itself
     - but on the other hand, it is something in one it
        represents in the mind and heart of the pagan doing
        the worshipping

     - according to verse 19, if it's not God that that
       person is worshipping, than what's the only other
     - demons

- point is:

    B. Worshipping an idol is not morally neutral

        - see, the problem is this - the Corinthians had
          three categories in their mind on this subject when
          there's only two

        - (on board) - they thought:

            - God (His Will)
            - Satan - His wickedness
            - idols - morally neutral (they wanted to just
                emphasize the "half-truth" that an idol is

            - Paul is saying - either a person is worshipping
              God and seeking to please Him--or anything else
              that he's worshipping is demonic

- now, we don't go looking for demons under every bush, but
  neither do we ignore the doctrine when it comes up clearly
  in the text
- demons are mentioned twice in two verses

- Paul's point is--just like a believer is having fellowship
  with Jesus Christ when he partakes of the Lord's table
    - an unbeliever is having fellowship with satanic forces
      when he eats meat that's been offered to idols

- the last thing you ought to want to do as a believer is to
   open yourself up to the wiles of the devil by eating with,
   and fellowshipping with those who at that very moment are
   fellowship with demons

- idolatry is not morally neutral!

INPUT - now let me ask you - what verses come to your mind on
   the subject of satan, demons, spiritual warfare?

- now, we need to say this.  These verses are a good
   opportunity for us to learn about the wiles (ways) of the
- we make a big mistake when we base our thinking on this
   subject on some novel somewhere about the devil.
- I don't need to be concerned about walking in a room and
    feeling a cold chill go up my back and seeing a dark
    figure scurry behind the couch.

- but neither does the Lord want me to march confidently
   through life as if there was no spiritual battle taking
- these verses tell us that one of the areas in which a
   spiritual battle is raging is in the area of Christian

- there's not three options, there's two.
- and that's the way it's always been.

- in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had a choice.
    - believe God's word and follow God's way
    - or believe Satan's word, and follow his way.
      - there was no neutral ground.
      - there was no way to please both sides or ride the

- that’s true even today.
- when it comes to how we life today--there's two choices:
    - believe God's Word and follow His ways
    - or believe the enemy, and fall in his traps

- I'm not saying we ought to talk about this every last
   service, but we need to talk about it.

- Jesus said to Peter, Simon, Satan has desired to have you,
   that he may sift you as wheat.
- later Peter in turn said to Annanais and Sapphira in Acts
    5:3 - "Why has Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy
        - in other words - you believed the lie
        - you should have believed God and followed His way,
           but since you didn't -- there's only one other way
           of looking at that event
        - you did what Satan wanted you to do

- see, what's Paul doing in these verses?
   (this may not be the best time to use a gambling figure of
    speech) - but Paul is significantly raising the stakes in
    these verses

- I need to enslave my liberties because of my fellowship
   with Jesus Christ, and to not do so isn't just an oops!
     - it's not morally neutral
     - when I'm worshipping idols instead of worshipping God
        in the way I exercise my liberty - I've given Satan a
           - I've done what the enemy wanted instead of what
              God wanted

- we've been in Grand Rapids the last couple of days
- I have a friend who was married after our sophomore year of
   college and transferred to Grand Rapids to finish school
   and then go into the ministry
- at graduation week of his senior year, his wife came to him
   in the married student apartment where they lived there on
   campus and told him she'd been having an affair with a man
   where she worked and was going to divorce my friend and
   marry the man she'd been having the affair with, which she

- the location of our seminar the last couple of days made me
    have to go right by the apartment where they lived
    several times
      - you couldn't help but think about the wiles of the

- it had a lot to do with abuses of Christian liberty
  - where the girl started saying things like this
    - I've got freedom
    - I can go to lunch with this man at work
    - I can talk to him about all his marital problems
    - I can go out with him at night while my husband's at

- "I've got liberty, I've got liberty"

    - the point is - that idolatrous use of "supposed
       liberty" was not morally neutral
    - she fell for the wiles of the devil because she refused
       to enslave any liberty

- see, this whole issue we've been studying is a serious,
  serious issue
    - Paul's helping us to see why

III. We Can't Have Both

    - we can't have fellowship with the Lord and at the same
      time be misusing our liberty

    - just like Jesus said when He was talking about money--
      no man can serve two masters
        - that’s true in the way we exercise our liberty as

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video